THE Commedia dell'Arte Festival was to be a first for Gympie and the nation, and while the event will still premiere in Australia, Gympie has lost the honour of playing host city, overshadowed by Brisbane's location and pulling power.
Launched at the Gympie Civic Centre in December 2009, the initiative was applauded by locals keen to see another positive dimension added to Gympie's cultural landscape.
Festival director Tony Kishawi said a dearth of registrations meant organisers had to seriously consider relocation.
“We have had to move the festival to Brisbane and have only now finalised details for the relocation,” he told The Gympie Times.
“We were invited by the Brisbane Italian Week organisers to participate in the Italian Week festivities and celebrations.
“Unfortunately we were not receiving sufficient registrations to make the festival viable locally and we considered this offer too good to refuse,” Mr Kishawi said.
It's certainly a blow to the many Gympie people who were looking forward to being part of the festival, including the Gympie Regional Council, who had been enthusiastic supporters of the event.
Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne said yesterday it was obviously a commercial decision to move the festival to Queensland's capital but it was a real loss for the region.
“It's quite a shame that it's going to Brisbane, it would have helped put Gympie on the map and provided another very worthy cultural aspect to the region,” Cr Dyne said.
Mr Kishawi said he was appreciative of the local support the festival had received, but said because one of the main target audiences for the event were drama teachers, it made sense to move the festival to the larger city.
The event remains scheduled to run May 28 – 30, and Mr Kishawi is hopeful Gympie people will still want to attend.
“The World Premier performance will be a gala event and we hope will be attended by the Italian Consul General and other Italian dignitaries, not to mention the Italian culture loving devotees and of course, our original Gympie supporters.”
The venue is now Woodward Theatre at QUT Kelvin Grove Campus.
More information at www.commediafestival.com.au.